Read Alouds have a valuable place in our reading instruction. If you are thinking it’s old-school, too hard for your kids, or unnecessary, let me change your mind. Read Alouds are so imperative in our classrooms because students get the chance to hear the appropriate model. This is huge in our rooms. You may only have one or two students who are readers if your caseload is very diverse. That’s pretty limited on the options for who your students are listening to read. We learn appropriate intonation, rate, and cadence by listening to other people read. Just like learning any other behavior, seeing the behavior demonstrated correctly is extremely helpful in learning how to do it yourself. Read Alouds give our students the chance to hear that appropriate model.
A major component in effective reading comprehension is visualizing what you read. As you read my last paragraph, you probably had a picture in your head of a teacher doing a read aloud to a group of students or your probably started picturing what this would look like in your classroom. Listening to the teacher read with expression gives students practice visualizing the story. It’s essential that students get practice in visualizing the text.
Another great reason to do read alouds is that students get experience with more advanced and complex texts. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, in my experience many of my readers can read much more complex books than they can understand. I always advocate keeping a student reading at their comprehension level but we also want to give our kids exposure to more complex books. By the teacher running the read aloud, students can hear and learn about more advanced topics and participate with grade level texts.
Read Alouds can be challenging for our kids.
Okay, so maybe I got you on board with all of the great benefits that read alouds can have, but I know what you are thinking now. This is going to be hard for some of my students. It definitely might be. Here are some accommodations you can use:
Give students the same book so they can follow along.
Give students a fidget, story themed toy, or relevant adapted book.
Give students a job (turning pages, pointing to words, etc.)
Give students a notebook to draw in while listening or to take notes.
Sarah’s go-to adaptation for her favorite story books is adding a moveable piece. You can easily create visuals to go with books by taking pictures of pages or characters in the book and printing small version. You can also have students match a color, important vocabulary (like the prepositions or sequence words on each page), or the number. You can work on non-identical vocabulary by making board maker or clipart visuals to match. This gives a nice hands-on component and makes the activity of listening to a book structured. Check all of Sarah’s book companions here.
Echo Reading & Choral Reading
A play on the Read Aloud is echo reading or choral reading. This strategies get students involved in the read aloud and give students the opportunity to have more skilled readers engaged with students who are struggling. Again, it’s all about that modeling and this will give a nice chance for some peer models.
In Echo Reading, the teacher reads a short passage from the text and the students read it back. This is a great way to build reading with expression and appropriate intonation. The rereading also allows students an additional chance for comprehending unknown words or phrases.
In Choral Reading, is a group of students reading together in unison. If you have enough readers, I love this strategy. Struggling readers can practice matching their rate and expression to more proficient readers. This helps improve student motivation and confidence.
With both of these strategies, you can set if up in a variety of ways. You can take turns by sentence, paragraph, or page. There are tons of options for differentiation and varied engagement opportunities. You can differentiate among students in your group by giving more skilled readers more complex and longer passages to echo and less skilled readers shorter and more basic passages to echo.